Updated: July 30, 2021 3:28:13 pm
A principal bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal has directed the Ministry of Defence and the IAF to issue a non-objection certificate (NOC) to Sergeant Samant Singh Senger clearing his way to join as an assistant professor of history in Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission.
Samant Singh Senger joined as an airman in the IAF in 2004. Between 2007 and 2017, he pursued and completed MA (history), MSc (mathematics), BEd, LLB and LLM with permission from the IAF.
However, he faced medical issues from September 2011 to January 2014 due to which his medical category was downgraded following which his chances of promotion and extension in the IAF beyond 20 years of service diminished significantly.
In 2017, he applied for the post of assistant professor with the Madhya Pradesh government and cleared the exams. However, he could not secure permission from the IAF since his current skill grade did not qualify him for the post.
The IAF has a policy that permits airmen to apply for Gp ‘A’ posts in the Centre and states. This policy is revised from time to time through an Air Force order, court records stated.
In the revised policy of 2017, besides seven years of service, possession of professional skill grade ‘A’ was also added as a mandatory requirement to apply for Gp A/B civil exams.
The tribunal headed by Justice Sunita Gupta and Air Marshal BBP Sinha in their order held, “the IAF will not lose much by releasing the applicant three years before the engagement period, however, the applicant will lose a lot if he is not released because he will retire as a Sgt in his early forties and lose the opportunity to accept appointment as a Group ‘A’ officer who could retire in his sixties. Additionally, the applicant will have no residue age left to appear in any competitive exams in future.”
Sengar’s lawyer Rakesh Kumar Singh had submitted a series of Delhi High Court judgements that had struck down the condition of having Skill Grade-‘A’ on grounds of being arbitrary and unreasonable.
Singh argued that this judgement was challenged before the Supreme Court in a special leave petition, however, the apex court has not stayed the Delhi HC judgement. The tribunal said that this “judgment instead of helping the respondents rather supports the case of the applicant which stands on a much better footing.”
Advocate JS Rawat appeared on behalf of the respondents which included the Ministry of Defence, Chief of Air Staff, and the Air Force Record Office.
The tribunal agreed with his submission that that “IAF as a fighting force has to manage its operational requirements and manpower requirements” and that “since fundamental rights of Armed Forces personnel are curtailed under Article 33 of the Constitution, an airman cannot decide at his sweet-will when to leave the organisation.”
The tribunal, however, stated that “the applicant being a case of permanent low medical category… has no future in IAF and he will be forced to retire without any promotion or extension of service after three years in 2024 when his 20 years initial engagement in service will be over.”
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